After torrential rain and the strong gusting wind conditions that had made life very difficult for the competitors taking part in the Nations Cup race earlier in the week, it was the turn of those competing for the UIM F1H2O World Championship to take their chances with the elements as qualifying got under way for the eleventh Grand Prix of Qatar.
So as the nineteen drivers from fourteen different nations made their way out onto the new 2000 metre course, which now features a right hand turn and a back straight that has been reduced by over 300 metres, the sun finally made an appearance, but the breeze was still making a nuisance of itself.
Sami Seliö, the number one driver in the Mad-Croc BaBa Racing Team, who currently sits in the top spot on the drivers championship alongside Alex Carella of the Qatar Team, knew that who ever set the quickest lap in the ‘Top Six Shoot-Out’ would need a slice of luck on their side. This time though ‘lady-luck’ had deserted those drivers heading out first in the final qualifying session, amongst them was an unfortunate Seliö.
“When I saw Al Qamzi head out for his run I could see that the breeze had really picked up” said Seliö. “When Chiappe and I took our turns it was probably blowing the strongest, in fact it actually picked the boat up on two occasions even though I was running negative engine trim to try and keep the boat on the water.”
Earlier the conditions had begun to improve and Seliö had qualified quickest around the technically challenging six turn course during the first session. Already out at this stage had gone the returning Caudwell Team as they continued with their four-stroke engine development work, not even the presence of the 2006 Qatar winner Ivan Brigada in their lead boat could help them progress any further up the grid for tomorrows Grand Prix.
Getting through to the second session was the Mad-Croc BaBa Racing Team’s number two driver Filip Roms. The young Finnish driver posted the tenth fastest time in that session as his confidence began to improve. “We have now found a perfect propeller for Roms” said Selio “and he seems to be putting it to good use now.” Roms went onto post the eleventh quickest time and will line up just ahead of the multiple American Champion Terry Rinker.
Seliö meanwhile has Jonas Andersson alongside him and he is confident that he can get the jump on the Swedish driver, who is not renowned for his race starts. “With the lap times being so close any one of the top five drivers could finish on the top step of podium tomorrow” said Seliö. “As long as I can keep in touch with Carella and Torrente I know I have a chance because even though they are racing for the same team they will both be fighting each other which is just perfect for me.”
Result for the ‘Top Six Shoot-Out’ at the F1H2O Grand Prix of Qatar
1. Alex Carella QAT Qatar Team 45.81 sec
2. Shaun Torrente USA Qatar Team 45.88 sec
3. Jonas Andersson SWE Team Azerbaijan 46.18 sec
4. Sami Seliö FIN Mad-Croc Baba Racing 46.25 sec
5. Philippe Chiappe FRA CTIC China Team 46.39 sec
6. Thani Al Qamzi UAE Team Abu Dhabi 48.28 sec
11. Filip Roms FI) Mad-Croc Baba Racing 49.20